Edgar Hilsenrath: “The city of Heidelberg’s 2016 Hilde Domin Prize for Literature in Exile has been awarded to German-Jewish writer Edgar Hilsenrath (born 1926). The accolade is awarded every three years to writers who live in exile in Germany, or who have been affected by the issue as descendants of exiles, who tackle the theme of exile in their literary work and who publish in German. In granting the award, the jury stated, ‘In Edgar Hilsenrath, we are honouring a writer whose life’s work has been to communicate the experience of exile through original and daring literature. His novels, which are driven by bleak, dark powers of imagination, are attempts to find ways to speak of the horrific acts humans commit against each other through various forms of the grotesque. His stories are best symbolised as laughter that gets caught in your throat – somewhere between cynicism, sorrow and assertiveness.’”
Marion Tauschwitz: I had the chance and pleasure to talk to him and to give him my biography on Selma Merbaum, he was very interested in. He and Selma could have met at Moghilew-Podolks where Selma stayed for a short while before being deported to cariera de piatra.
“Bukovina is in every sense a paradox. Everything is upside down here. It almost seems as if this topsy-turvy element had to belong to the nature of this land, as if its character was to consist of this. Everyone feels that Bukovina is something special, not to be put on a level with the other crownlands and that its cultural ties also have a certain nuance of their own, something different from the ordinary. Yet, they only feel. What this character is, however, very few have so far attempted to fathom.”
This is a citation of Dr. Max Rosenberg from Czernowitz from the year 1914, preposed by H. F. van Drunen to his thesis “‘A Sanguine Bunch’ – Regional Identification in Habsburg Bukovina, 1774-1919” (Book of the Month, January 2015):
One year later, in 1915, under the impression of the devastations caused during the Russian occupation, Dr. Max Rosenberg is visiting the Jewish Cemetery of Sadagora and his impressive report – see above – was published by the prestigious “Pester Lloyd” from Budapest on April 20, 1915:
Auf dem Judenfriedhof von Sadagora. Von Dr. Max Rosenberg (Czernowitz).
Am nördlichen Ende Sadagoras, in der Ecke einer weiten Wiese, ein kleiner, früher umfriedet gewesener Platz. Drinnen die charakteristischen weißen Steine, dicht nebeneinander gestellt, wie betende Juden gegen Osten gewendet. Es ist der Judenfriedhof Sadagoras. Ganz still liegt er jetzt da. Wer ihn betritt, hat aber das Gefühl, als ob jedes Stückchen aufgeworfenen Lehms gar manches erzählen könnte. Viel hat dieser abgeschiedene Ort in der letzten Zeit erdulden müssen. Südlich vom Friedhof liegt das jüdische Städtchen mit seinen niedrigen, von Schindeldächern bedeckten Häusern und den engen winkeligen Straßen. Dort haben die Russen, als sie hier Herren waren, gewütet. Dieser kleine, tote, stille Judenfriedhof gewährt den Eindruck, als wollte er all das wieder erzählen, was der kleine Judenort da unten gelitten.
[…] The Comet Tempel-Tuttle and the Leonid asteroid showers were visible from earth in 1866. They appeared just after writing my ‘Prophecy’ which was also the time people were fighting and dying in the Austro – Prussian war. But war sagas are not relevant to describing this city. This city is called Czernowitz and the year is 2010. What will Czernowitz look like in the next Millennium? If my views have any truth, we must move forward, not backwards and imagine that our city of the future will have water mains, good drainage, electric lighting and will look like as follows in the year 2010. Join me with my prophetic thoughts.
It is 10 May 2010 and 5 clock in the morning. The Graubart House and Beck’s Real Estates have gone. The Town Hall next to it now has an empty space on one side. It is springtime and a gorgeous fountain splashes its crystal clear water onto highly decorated metallic bowls, surrounded by beautiful fragrant gardens. Peace and tranquility prevail, the streets are much wider, the old buildings on the main square have disappeared, and well-appointed new structures fill the spaces where there were once narrow streets. Trams travel up and down these widened thoroughfares. This is a busy place, the streets are filled with people and there are many fabulous large new buildings, but I go further. In the main square, Elisabeth Square, buildings are made entirely out of glass. One of them contains a huge pool, where live fish swirl. Plantings of beautiful fragrant gardens are laid out in between. Gleaming roof tops are covered in bronze and shine Zen like in the May sunshine. Always lively is the bustle of people in our city. School children from the local school run fast because it is nearly 8 clock in the morning. This is happening in of all places, Austria! What a glorious sight! In the middle of all this, is a park, with another fountain, an example of splendid contemporary art, as well as modern houses built in modern-day designs, elegant and beautifully finished in glistening bronze. One historic monument standing silently and respectfully is the old courthouse, remembering that Law and Justice at all times should be the foundation of humanity.
For me the best part of any future construction in the next Millenium, is the Cecina Gasse which consists of a small bridge with a road reaching to the summit of Mount Cecina in the nearby Carpathians. Electrified railways go backwards and forwards carrying thousands of people. The route is only 5 kilometers long. I get into a car and within a few minutes reach the summit. Beautiful villas sit side by side, built in rustic style. An energy is found up here, fabulous restaurants and bands are playing, making everyone happy all breathing the freshest forest and mountain air, with wonderful wide vistas far into the distance. Life here is full of excitement and anticipation. Cecina now a city, is a splendid sight with its sunlit buildings and tall tower blocks. One brand new invention of the new millennium delights many admirers. There is a small cottage which has cameras and telephone devices so the inhabitants can use these between towns. People are able to see and speak to each other at the same time. I am lost in this world of the future! […]
Courtesy: Jill Rothwell/Bieder • Read more at: Jill Rothwell’s Family Connection to Czernowitz
Courtesy: Steve Lasky • Museum of Family History
From Ruth Levin, an article from the “Ost-Yiddishe Zeitung”, 2.6.1935:
“…Dr. Landau introduced to the audience a young man whose name
should not be forgotten. Probably, we’ll hear from him again and again.
Levin isn’t a singer, rather he’s an artistic reader. He’s not a reader, rather
he’s an actor. As a matter of fact he’s all in one: singer, artistic reader, actor
and poet. Why also poet? He reads to us only the poems of others, does he not?
That being so, this is the secret of his art. He reveals what is hidden between the lines.
He brings the poet to completion. He draws from the poet’s soul riches the poet himself
did not know of, riches that were hidden in his sub-conscious…
Frequently the words of the text in his mouth serve solely as a stimulus that awakens –
just for a passing moment – the poetic spiritual inheritance of his own, and that has
always to be born anew, like the music.
The art of Leibu Levin needs not only to be heard, though, but also to be seen. He himself
one has to hear and see, how he breathes into the dim hall, into the pearls of strangers’
poetry, his young burning soul, the creative, sometimes ecstatic, and sometimes weeping
soul… His profound understanding drew one deeply into the fables of
Eliezer Steinbarg and the ballads of Itzik Manger.
From time to time the reader becomes singer, and only when he was seen as well as heard,
did I finally understand the meaning of the old expression “to sing and to say”
regarding troubadours and minnesingers. When his spoken word passes to song, it reminds me
of a flying ship hovering above the earth and taking off to the blue heavens…
Talent is as rare as gold. From the gold it is possible to forge a holiday crown for
priests who serve gods and it is possible to pay with it the penance for sinful impurity…
Talent can be refined to capture surpassing art, or can descend to cheap popular
entertainment. It seems to me that all in Leibu Levin aspires toward and is uplifted to the
shining heights of noble art .”
Dr. Meyer Ebner
The newspaper “Ost-Yiddishe Zeitung”, 2.6.1935